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Dealing with Automobile Accidents

by Andrew Purvis

No driver wants to get into an accident (after all, an accident is, by its very definition, unintentional), but it happens every day. What some people don't know is what to do if they are involved in an accident. We want to make sure that you do know what to do.

Note: If you are involved in a serious accident in which you may be seriously injured, do not try to move. Even something that seems like a minor injury can become very serious if you move before receiving medical attention. The information in this article is intended to help you if you are involved in non-injury accidents. As one officer recently told a close friend of mine, "You can replace the car, but we can't replace you."

The first thing you need to do is pull over to the side of the road. You are required to to exchange certain information with the other driver(s) involved in the accident.

The next thing you need to do is stay calm. Whether it's a "fender bender" (a minor accident) or a major crash, your adrenaline will be pumping, and you're going to be upset. But you won't be able to take care of everything properly if you don't take a moment to calm down.

Once you and the other driver(s) have pulled over, get your driver's license, automobile registration, and proof of insurance together and get out of your car. The other driver may be very upset (proof that he needs to read this article); just be prepared to take care of the necessary matters regardless of how the other driver is behaving.

Laws governing insurance requirements vary from state to state, but no matter where you are, you should attempt to exchange information. Get the other driver's insurance company's name, insurance policy number, license plate number, name, address, and telephone number; and let them copy down the same information for you. Don't try to argue with the other driver about what happened. The police (if they get involved) and the insurance companies will sort that all out.

In most cases, provided that none of the cars involved are too damaged to drive safely and no one is critically injured, you and the other driver(s) may go your separate ways. The insurance companies can take care of the rest.

iStudentCity Tip
  • Don't let another driver tell you that you don't need to exchange information. If they try to intimidate you, write down their license plate number and a general description. If another driver leaves the scene of an accident without exchanging information, call the police and give them the information.

After you have done all of these things, inspect your vehicle carefully. It's one thing to be involved in an accident, but quite another if you compound it by driving an unsafe car. Make certain that your car will start, your lights and turn signals work, and you are not leaking any fluids. Also make certain that no damage will cause part of the car body to rub against your tires as you drive; this could cause your tire to blow under very dangerous conditions.

What Do You Do If Someone Drives Away?

If you are involved in an accident and someone else involved drives away without stopping, it is called a "hit-and-run." About the only thing you can do in a situation like this is try to get the other vehicle's license plate number and then give it to the police.

Note: Do not chase the other car. This can be dangerous for many reasons: you may have to drive very quickly, the other driver may be carrying a weapon, or your car may be damaged in the pursuit. There are many other reasons. You'll probably be very upset, but it isn't worth risking your life on the chance that you may catch the other car. Besides which, what would you do if you caught up to the other driver?

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